Training a new generation of scientific beekeepers

DOI: 10.18258/0010
Funded on 11/02/12
Successfully Funded
  • $2,250
  • 102%
  • Funded
    on 11/02/12

About This Project

It all get's down to how important bees are in the environment and to agriculture, because it's commonly said that every third mouthful of food we consume is due to the efforts of bees.

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What is the context of this research?

Our project is different in that the research we do is meshed with student learning, training in the art of beekeeping, and cooperative research projects with other groups. The most important questions we are working on in this regard are

1) testing and development of mite management techniques,

2) testing new bee hybrid strains for resistance to mites and disease, and

3) assessing the contamination of our bees wax supply with legacy miticides while developing ways to purify wax on a small scale.

We are concerned with other important topics to which we will contribute with data-sharing and experimental use of our hives. These currently include Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD, a.k.a. "Disappearing Disease"), the importance of wild pollinator diversity to urban agriculture, and honey bee foraging and learning dynamics.

What is the significance of this project?

Honey bees are a vital part of American agriculture, and are essential for the production of at least 1/3 of the food we eat plus indirectly for production of the hybrid seed required to produce the rest. We are dependent on the pollination services of bees, the most important being honey bees and several species of native bees that have been developed for crop pollination. However, honey bees are now under attack by a plethora of natural enemies introduced in the last 20 years plus new bee-deadly pesticides now rampant in the environment. Research into helping honey bees survive these difficult times is essential. We are part of a world-wide bee research community that is linked by the internet and the unique cultural ties that bind all beekeepers. Government, University, and private groups are all involved and I have personally served in all these capacities throughout my career. It is an exciting opportunity to contribute to this global effort while bringing new minds and hands into the game. Our renowned umbrella institution, the University of Washington, has sponsored related work for many years, so our effort is already a proud tradition.

What are the goals of the project?

To have a new bee program at UW! We are helping to train a new generation of experimental beekeepers that will be able to deal with the huge problems that now face bees. And we can contribute to the science that will come up with new solutions. Our hives are part of the UW Farm, which is now supplying campus-grown food to students!

Our initial steps have been taken. We have established a physical presence on the University campus, integrated our operation with the UW Farm, developed a teaching curriculum that is currently in its second year, amassed useful data on a number of our projects, and developed liaisons with beekeepers and scientists in both the local and wider community. FUNDING IS OUR MAIN PROBLEM! We are currently limited to course fees and a small portion of the UW Farm budget plus a small amount from selling honey from our hives. We are operating mostly on volunteer labor as we struggle to establish hives, maintain the bees, and administer a robust teaching and research program. Falling short of our basic needs is a constant threat, so we are obliged to search for outside funding, possibly our most important activity. Our first goal is to cover our relatively modest costs on an annual basis.


  • $2,200Supplies for the Beekeeping Course

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Meet the Team

Evan A. Sugden
Evan A. Sugden


M.A. Biology, University of Utah 1976
PhD Entomology, University of California, Davis 1984
Instructor at Biology Dept., University of Washington, Seattle
Instructor at Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, Univ. WA, Tacoma
Owner of Entomo-Logic , Monroe, WA


My experiences are diverse. I have traveled widely. I have many skills. Below is a brief summary of my professional life in resume format:

- 1976. B.A. Biology, University of Utah.
- 1984. Ph.D., Entomology, University of California, Davis. Thesis: Ecology of perturbations in natural plant-pollinator systems.
- 1984-85. Apicultural development scientist, Honey Production International, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Focus: development of honey-producing apiaries; investigation of indigenous apiculture and native bee ecology.
- 1985-87. NSF-funded postdoctoral scholar, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia. Focus: ecology of native bee-honey bee interactions.
- 1987-88. Technical Assistant, Exotic Pest Program, California Department of Food and Agriculture. Focus: development of exotic pest profiles; assisted in administration and field work for Medfly and Oriental Fruit Fly eradication programs.
- 1988-92. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Weslaco, Texas. Focus: research on ecology and impact of Africanized (\"Killer\"") Bees.
- 1993-94. Kentucky State University. Visiting researcher. Focus: honey bee parasites and their control.
- 1995 - 1997. Consultant in editing, illustration, exhibit design.
- 1997 - present. Entrepreneur, small business owner. Focus: management and production of solitary pollinator bees and honey bees.
- 1998-present. Instructor, Biology Dept., University of Washington, Seattle and Tacoma. Focus: Entomology, Ecology, Bees & Beekeeping.
Other teaching appointments: Edmunds Community College, 2006; University of Oregon, 2010.

Recent Lab Notes

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Progress, Blog, & THANKS!
June 29, 2012
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Additional Information

Participation is the key to progress (and to pleasure!) By involving yourself as a supporter you are part of our community and will be helping to make the world a better place. Our project is exciting and fun on top of a great deal of study, learning, skills development, and creative drudgery (not to mention an occasional bee sting!) As a supporter, we offer you a special WELCOME and encourage you to join us in whatever capacity you desire!

Project Backers

bigdipperdawsodmotleskbt3JbTammisrosecraz8jaybassEvan A. Sugdenjlaldenanna_jorgensensbirksRachaelLJeanChiangmbillyreinopowercattoycarpentermdeathworm25Diepmandy_knudtson27Nick WangnashuagoatsBurgessjigen9378gracekim57LuanfhapgoodannatatersCindy WurosesmillerseanforsrachelnstubbsplTheRevJesterJohnsonHorMoxie42frederickchoeBrentNewhallninjabassonlinebitsyblattlgonda